Solar PV plus Sharp SmartStorage® energy storage systems have been installed at six sites within the Santa Rita Union School District in Salinas, California. The systems will provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage and are expected to offset the school’s energy and demand usage resulting in savings on its utility bills. These multi-campus systems will enable the schools to support the local Salinas community as Powered Emergency Response Centers in the event of disasters that cause prolonged outages.
The systems include 1 MW of solar PV integrated with 1.1 MWh of Sharp’s SmartStorage® behind-the-meter energy storage systems. The project was developed by SolEd Benefit Corporation, engineered by Sharp and Black & Veatch, constructed by MBL Energy and financed by Generate Capital.
“On-site generation and storage is a growing trend among businesses and mission-critical facilities such as schools and electrified transportation fleet deployments,” said Paul Stith, Director of Strategy & Innovation for Black & Veatch’s Transformative Technologies business. “We’ve seen solar and battery costs drop significantly, which makes these solutions affordable, and with them agencies and owners have more predictable utility bills, which is important to organizations like school districts that work with very fixed budgets.”
Incentive programs also enable new and emerging distributed industry resources. The California Public Utilities Commission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program provides dollars for customer-sited energy storage for low-income communities, commercial, and educational and government institutions. Other states with incentive programs include Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.
Federal incentives also aid renewable energy and storage projects. Commercial properties may qualify for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for installing designated renewable energy generation equipment, along with storage. In addition, financing partners, like Generate Capital on the Santa Rita Union School District project, can provide funds to launch the efforts and unlock savings.
“Initiatives like the one in Salinas are about teams coming together to innovate and create positive change,” Stith said. “By taking advantage of all the resources available to them, the school district is setting itself up for the clean-energy future and in the process adding community resiliency.”
"California school districts face extremely challenging budgeting situations and any reduction in operational expenses can directly translate into money for teachers, books, or supplies," said Dr. Shelly Morr, superintendent of SRUSD. "It is also important for our community that schools aren't impacted by events such as power outages as this disrupts not just the school day, but parents having to leave work early or scramble to make other arrangements for their children. We're excited to see these clean energy systems implemented on our school campuses."